Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Treatment
Is PTSD getting in the way of you enjoying life again?
Have you been struggling with the emotional pain of a past traumatic or distressing experience?
Do you find yourself wishing that you could just push all this pain away and get back to the old you again?
Does your mind keep trying to get you to think about or remember these unpleasant memories even though you keep trying to push them back down to avoid the memories?
Do you try to use distractions or substances to avoid the memories?
Do you find yourself trying to avoiding certain types of people, objects, places, or smells because they make you feel distressed or remind you of an unpleasant past?
Has this experience resulted in you now having poor sleep at night or nightmares?
Perhaps you experience moments where you start to “relive” the past trauma, maybe sometimes to the point where you feel like it is happening all over again?
Have you been feeling emotionally “numb” where you just don’t seem to feel much, or maybe you just don’t seem to enjoy things like you used to?
Maybe you worry if you will ever get past this event and move on with life? Or perhaps you find yourself getting frustrated with yourself that this past event is still affecting you?
Do you find that these days you’re easily startled by sudden noises and events? Or feel like you are “on edge” a lot of the time?
Have you noticed that you start to be more aware of who or what is around you in order to feel safe?
Has anxiety started taking over your life, or perhaps you find that you’re easily overwhelmed and unable to cope these days?
Have you noticed yourself becoming more irritable, frustrated or angry?
If you answer Yes to or you can relate to any of the above, it is possible that you could be experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms, or a psychological condition called PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”.
The pain of unresolved trauma or PTSD is very real, and if you suffer from trauma symptoms especially to the extent of a PTSD, you will know exactly all too well how painful and distressing this can feel to go through this experience day after day year after year. Your mind wants to keep taking you back to the past trauma all the while you try to avoid thinking about those painful memories at all costs. The trauma or PTSD can become so debilitating that you probably find that you struggle participating in daily life without becoming easily overwhelmed struggling to cope or your emotions going all over the place. All the while, people are probably telling you that you should be “over” the past event because of all the time that has passed now since it happened, and you are probably wondering that there must be something wrong with you because you just can’t seem to “get over it” and move on with life. Instead living on edge with anxiety and maybe depression too has become the all too familiar friend as you barely start to recognise your old self anymore. Getting a good night of sleep can often become a struggle as your mind will tend to want to be busy either thinking about random things or worries, or thinking about the past event. You might even experience nightmares or flashbacks that keep waking you up or night which can be frightening at times because they can feel so real. It can feel disheartening when you find that you don’t really want to leave the house much anymore, socialise or see friends or family, or enjoy pleasurable activities as much as you used to. All the while, you just want to escape all the memories and the pain and get on with life.
What you’re experiencing is very normal, there is nothing “wrong” with you.
With all of those above symptoms being experienced, it is easily to feel like that you are “going crazy” or “lost control”; that what you are experiencing is somehow not “normal” either because it does not make sense to you why you are experiencing what you are experiencing, or because people keep saying to you that you should be “over it” by now making you feel like there is something wrong with you because you’re still not past what happened. What I’d like to say to you is that having experienced a trauma that has had a strong psychological impact on you, everything you are experiencing right now is incredibly normal. As I like to put it, you are experiencing a “normal response to an abnormal situation”. Meaning, all of those symptoms listed above are all normal psychological/emotional and bodily reactions to the experience of a traumatic (not normal) event. Importantly, having trauma or PTSD symptoms does not mean that you are “weak” in any way at all even though society can tell us that sometimes. The trauma effect is just our brain and body’s way of reacting to pretty challenging stuff that is an old survival mechanism we have. In fact, you are incredibly strong! It’s not easy dealing with trauma and PTSD.
There is hope heal from trauma and PTSD
It is not uncommon to feel like that you will never be able to get past the trauma and get on with life, especially if it feels really intense or the trauma happened a long time ago. However, the good news is that healing from trauma and PTSD is certainly possible, no matter how long ago the trauma was initially experienced. It is nice to know that there is hope to get back to feeling a happier self again. Ashley Gilmour, our PTSD Clinical Psychologist at Vitality Unleashed Psychology has extensive experience in assessing, diagnosing and treating traumas and PTSD. Ashley has been able to help many people of various ages to fully heal from recent traumas as well as traumas from more than 60 years earlier in their life.
What does PTSD treatment involve?
PTSD treatment at our Gold Coast Psychology practice involves several aspects. In our sessions, I will initially get a better understanding of your background so I can better understand you as a person overall, as well as assess your psychological history and symptomatology to better understand your trauma, symptoms and their severity, including how this is impacting your overall life functioning. This will help me to clarify if what you are experiencing is trauma symptoms or PTSD, as well as understand if there are any other additional psychological challenges that are also going on for you that we need to know about to incorporate into your treatment plan. I believe knowledge is power, thus in our sessions I will also provide you with a good understanding of what it is that is going on for you, and why things seem to be affecting you the way they are. Then we will have a chat about what you would like to get out of the sessions with your treatment goals and what treatment we will do for your psychological challenges to help you to meet your goals.
From the second session onwards, we continue to do mainly treatment work in alignment with your treatment goals as well as help to clarify any further questions you have, and look at how you are finding the treatment helping you so far so that we know what needs to be changed in any way so that we can keep moving you towards reaching your goals. At Vitality Unleashed Psychology, we understand that it is not uncommon for people with trauma or PTSD to have unexpected life situations or “crises” to occur between sessions as the person can find it overwhelming to cope with daily life more than they used to. So where needed, we will also certainly help you to get through these situations while we keep moving towards your treatment goals.
The treatment approach that we will use together will depend on you as we do not do a “one size fits all” approach, as we see each of our clients as unique with their own individual personal and psychological challenges. It will depend on what your specific treatment goals are and what your current level of emotional coping is. For some of my clients, they prefer to move at a very gradual pace because that is all that they feel that they can manage or cope with, where as for other clients, they prefer to get to the root of the trauma and shift it to progress to healing quicker. There is absolutely no right or wrong way to move through your own trauma as everyone is different and everyone has their own level of what they can cope with or what they prefer for their treatment. The treatment approaches will generally work at two levels, one being the conscious mind where we help you to manage your anxiety symptoms, develop better sleep behaviours, better manage nightmares and flashbacks, cope with daily life stressors in healthier ways, and reduce any substances you might be using to cope. If you feel up to it, we will also be able to help shift your trauma at the subconscious level of the mind so that we can in a sense clear the trauma out so that you can get healing from it and don’t feel the need to push it down anymore. This is very beneficial for long-term healing and wellbeing. It is really important that you work with a Clinical Psychologist that understands you and where you are at. At Vitality Unleashed Psychology, all treatment interventions are always provided at a pace that is safe for you and that you feel comfortable experiencing in a supportive, safe and comfortable environment. It is important to us that we help you to achieve your treatment goals, rather than not continue with your treatment because you find it too overwhelming.
Even if you feel as though you will never be able to heal and get back to being the old you again, with the help of a caring, understanding, supportive and experienced Clinical Psychologist who understands trauma and PTSD, you can start moving towards attaining inner peace and happiness again.
You may still have some questions about PTSD Treatment . . .
I have had my trauma or PTSD for so long now, how could you possibly help me to heal it?
This is a good question to ask. It is not uncommon for people whom have experienced a trauma quite some time ago to think that there is nothing that can be done for them to help them to heal from what they have been through, especially if they have seen other therapists before and found it mostly unhelpful. Generally, they feel that they have to resort to having to live with the psychological effects of their trauma for the rest of their life. As a Clinical Psychologist who has helped people to recover from PTSD, people feeling helpless that they do not have the healing power within them to heal themselves makes me feel even more passionate about helping people to understand that yes, they can heal from their own traumas no matter how long ago it was experienced or the complexities of their trauma, if they make a choice to heal. This last part is very important… that they make a “choice” to heal. When we choose to heal, we not only put that intention for healing out there to our subconscious, but we are also giving ourselves permission to look at the painful aspects of our trauma so that we can heal that.
But won’t PTSD treatment involve me having to re-experience the pain of the trauma all over again?
This is also a common concern among people with trauma or PTSD when they consider getting treatment. It is a very valid concern to ask about especially when re-traumatisation is a real experience among people with PTSD which they try to avoid at all costs, understandably as the re-traumatisation is highly uncomfortable and often distressing for the person. When treating PTSD, it is absolutely important that you work with a Clinical Psychologist who is experienced and equipped in dealing with treating trauma and PTSD to ensure that you are not re-traumatised. The treatment approaches that I use with my trauma clients are always those that will help them to heal in the least traumatising way possible. This is why it is absolutely crucial that treatment is tailor-made rather than a one size fits all approach being used. The treatment approaches I use are non-intrusive; we will deal with the traumas directly to allow for healing, however in a way where you are detached from the traumas in a safe way rather than being in the trauma all over again. As I work with you, I get a good understanding of where you are at psychologically and what you’re able to cope with. As we move through the treatment interventions, I will monitor you for any indications that you may be getting too distressed and will manage this accordingly so that we can complete the healing safely. Afterwards, clients will typically report that the trauma does not really upset them so much anymore, and often comment that it was not as bad or scary as what they initially thought it would be, generally feeling a lot better for it afterwards.
But isn’t it expensive to get psychological treatment?
Another very valid question to ask. As a Clinical Psychologist, I am very passionate about becoming the best version of myself that I can be and with this I have spent a significant amount of money doing deep inner work on myself. It is now after I see and feel the changes that I can certainly see now how it is much more of an “investment” than a cost. When I look at how much I have gained personally and professionally from investing this money and time into myself that I would not have attained had I not done so because it would cost me money, I would not be where I am today with the happiness and gratitude that I feel on a daily basis.
In Australia, we are very fortunate to have Medicare provide a rebate of $124.50 per session for up to 10 sessions per calendar year when you see a Clinical Psychologist such as myself. This makes seeing an experienced Clinical Psychologist a whole lot more affordable. When we look at the financial impact of having trauma or PTSD, it is typically quite massive. Most people I have come across with trauma or PTSD now struggle to function in their daily life, often having to miss, cut down on, or quit work altogether. It is also common that they end up developing physical health problems also which also cost money to get treatment for such as physiotherapy, specialist appointments. On top of this, there is the expense of medications which for most people the cost can stack up to be a lot each month. It is also important to realise that leaving trauma and PTSD untreated is not only a financial cost, but there is also the cost to your physical and mental health. I am a big believer in that we need to take care of our body because we only get one physical body given to us, so we need to take care of it.
You can heal from trauma and PTSD
If you would like to enquire further about how our PTSD treatment could help you recover from your trauma and get back to happiness, we would love to have a chat with you to help you to learn more. If you’re ready to book an appointment to get started with your treatment, that’s great news. Contact us today on 07 5574 3888 or fill out our contact form below or send us an email at [email protected] if that is easier and we will get back to you as soon as possible.